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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

Thomas Vincent

LV. Quest. What is forbidden in the third commandment?
The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of any thing whereby God maketh himself known.

Q. 1. How are God's names, titles, and attributes profaned and abused?
A. God's names, titles, and attributes are profaned and abused— 1. When persons do think slightly and irreverently of them, without any suitable affections to them; especially when their hearts are filled with despising, hatred, and aversion towards the name of God. "If I then be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you that despise my name."— Mal. 1:6. 2. When persons speak irreverently concerning God, making mention of any of his names, titles, or attributes, in ordinary discourse, crying, 0 Lord, O God, God forgive me, God save me, and the like, without minding what they say, or having any awe of God upon them, whilst they are speaking of him. "Thine enemies take thy name in vain "— Ps. 139:20.3. When persons do swear by the name of God, and that either vainly and wickedly mingling their ordinary speech with hideous oaths, priding themselves in their invention of new oaths, and emphatically pronouncing of them; or when persons being called to swear lawfully before a magistrate, or the like, they do swear falsely. "But I say unto you, Swear not at all. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."— Matt. 5:34, 37. "It shall enter into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name."— Zech. 5:4. 4. When persons do curse either themselves or others in the name of the Lord, either jestingly, rashly, or maliciously. "And the Philistine cursed David by his gods."— 1 Sam. 17:43. "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man."— Matt. 26:74. 5. When persons blaspheme the name of the Lord, by speaking against any of those names, titles, or attributes, whereby he hath made himself known, or by ascribing any thing unto him which is unworthy of him. "Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thinc eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel."— 2 Kings 19:22. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."— James 1:13. 6. When persons use the name of the Lord in any charms. "Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus," &c. "And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leapt upon them, and overcame them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded."— Acts 19:13, 16.

Q. 2. How are God's ordinances profaned and abused?
A. God's ordinances are profaned and abused— 1. When persons are irreverent in their attendance upon them, in regard of the outward gesture of their bodies, laughing, talking, sleeping, or any other way indecently behaving themselves in the time of prayer, preaching, singing, receiving the sacrament, or any other part of God's worship. "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God."— Eccles. 5:1. "Let all things be done decently and in order."— 1 Cor. 14:40. 2. When persons, under ordinances, are slight and formal, as to the inward frame of their minds; when their minds are roving and wandering, and their hearts are dead and dull, very unbeseeming the majesty of God, whom in his ordinances they wait upon, who, being a Spirit, doth chiefly look to the spiritual part of his service. "God is a Spirit; and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth."— John 4:24. 3. And chiefly, persons profane and abuse God's ordinances, when they make a profession of religion, and attend upon ordinances, that they may be accounted religious by men, without any sincere endeavours to approve the heart unto God; making use of religion only aq a cloak for covetousness, or maliciousness, or voluptuousness. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."— 2 Tim. 3:5. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation."— Matt. 23:14.

Q. 3. How is God's Word profaned and abused?
A. God's Word is profaned and abused— 1. When persons think or speak slightingly, especially when they pervert the Word of God, or any part thereof, into profane jests. "And when this people, or prophet, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt say, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord. And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more; for ye have perverted the words of the living God."— Jer. 23:33, 36. 2. When persons wrest the Word of God into false doctrine, perversely disputing against the sound and wholesome doctrine therein contained. "In which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction."— 2 Pet. 3:16. "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the trnth."— 1 Tim. 6:3-5. 3. When persons misapply the Word of God— the threatenings unto the righteous, to make them sad; the promises to the wicked, to encourage them in their wicked ways. "With lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life."— Ezek. 13:22.

Q. 4. How are God's works profaned and abused?
A. God's works are profaned and abused — 1. When persons pamper their flesh, gratify their lusts, and are intemperate in their use of God's creatures. "Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."— Rom. 13:13, 14. 2. When, in prosperity, persons are forgetful of God, unthankful for mercies, and indulge themselves the more in sin, because of God's patience and bounty. "They were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me."— Hos. 13:6. "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance? But, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath," &c.— Rom. 2:4, 5. 3. When, in adversity, persons murmur, are impatient; when they are incorrigible, and grow more hardened in their sins. "Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer."— 1 Cor. 10:10. "Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction; they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return."— Jer. 5:3.

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